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The Numbers Crunch: Knicks too much for the Wizards to handle

Stats, analysis, commentary.

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards wing Corey Kispert
Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards took on a New York Knicks team missing two starters and got trucked. Washington stayed close but never led, and the margin ballooned as their offense collapsed in the fourth quarter. They managed just 9 points over the final 9 minutes — 7 of those points coming in garbage time.

For the most part, I thought the team’s effort was significantly improved. Most of the players competed on both ends. That’s not to say they made good decisions or played well. But for the most part, they tried.

One conspicuous exception: Jordan Poole. It was yet another absolutely awful game for him — 2-11 shooting, 0-6 from deep, 4 assists, as well as 5 turnovers and 2 fouls. There was one play in the second quarter where New York’s Miles McBride poked the ball loose and sprinted down the court in pursuit of the loose ball while Poole casually jogged after him.

I don’t want this to turn into a space where I dump on Poole all the time. I’ve seen him play well in the past, I thought trading for him was worth a shot, and I still have hope that he could be more than he was with the Golden State Warriors.

For there to be any hope, Poole’s decision-making and effort — on both ends of the floor — has to improve. No team can survive in the NBA with a starting guard playing 29 minutes with a usage rate as high as Poole’s and offensive rating as bad. He entered the Knicks game with an ortg more than 20 points per 100 possessions below league average, and was even worse against New York.

Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and his staff have to figure out how to help him apply his technical skills to actual games, improve his decision making, and boost his effort, or they need to cut his playing time. How he’s played so far this season doesn’t work — not for him, and not for the team.

Musings and Observations

  • Deni Avdija played well — 18 points on 11 shots, a pair of threes, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block. He also had three turnovers and four fouls. His defense was solid, and the team defense was at its best (about the level of league average) when he was out there.
  • Corey Kispert had a decent game — he made shots, grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic (easily the best rebound of his career) and at least tried on defense. He got victimized by an Immanuel Quickley blow-by, which is something that happens a lot to NBA players trying to defend Quickley.
  • Tyus Jones was pretty good overall — 11 points on 7 shots, 5 assists and just 1 turnover. As would be expected for a smaller guard not blessed with elite athletic tools, his defense was subpar.
  • Daniel Gafford got pushed around inside by Mitchell Robinson, which is the norm when those two match up.
  • Kyle Kuzma played hard and succeeded in making life difficult for Julius Randle. His decision-making on offense was bad, and his attempts to “take over” were a big part of the team’s fourth quarter offensive collapse. In the final period, he was 0-5 from the floor with a turnover.
  • Bilal Coulibaly tried to do more on offense, and it didn’t go well — just 2-7 from the floor with a pair of turnovers. He defended (though the team defense was a debacle in his minutes), and he had 3 rebounds and 4 assists. On back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, he and countryman Evan Fournier went at each other. It wasn’t a duel for the ages — both missed their shots.
  • Washington’s defensive rebounding was virtually nonexistent. Again. The Knicks had 14 offensive boards for a 35.9% offensive rebounding percentage. League average so far: 24.9%. New York had more defensive rebounds (34) than Washington had total rebounds (32).
  • With the loss, the Wizards fell to 0-3 in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament pool action.

Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide wins and losses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).

Four Factors: Knicks at Wizards

EFG 0.582 0.512
OREB 14 7
TOV 10 14
FTM 14 15
ORTG 127 105

Stats & Metrics

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score. PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls).

Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.

PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples sometimes producing weird results.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average last season was 114.8. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are versions of stats created by Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver and modified by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.

+PTS = “Plus Points” is a measure of the points gained or lost by each player based on their efficiency in this game compared to league average efficiency on the same number of possessions. A player with an offensive rating (points produced per possession x 100) of 100 who uses 20 possessions would produce 20 points. If the league average efficiency is 114, the league — on average — would produced 22.8 points in the same 20 possessions. So, the player in this hypothetical would have a +PTS score of -2.8.

Stats & Metrics: Wizards

Corey Kispert 26 52 160 9.9% 2.4 152 15.9 1
Tyus Jones 30 59 138 14.8% 2.1 130 15.5 -18
Deni Avdija 32 62 118 21.1% 0.5 123 15.4 -6
Danilo Gallinari 17 34 110 17.4% -0.2 118 8.1 -3
Landry Shamet 7 13 177 22.1% 1.8 297 7.7 -5
Daniel Gafford 28 54 115 17.0% 0.1 59 6.4 -15
Kyle Kuzma 32 63 89 31.5% -4.8 24 3.0 -20
Anthony Gill 2 5 228 26.0% 1.4 371 0.0 -1
Eugene Omoruyi 2 5 244 34.0% 2.0 811 0.0 -1
Johnny Davis 2 5 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 -1
Jared Butler 2 5 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 -1
Bilal Coulibaly 31 61 76 16.4% -3.7 -10 0.0 -17
Jordan Poole 29 56 58 29.7% -9.2 -150 0.0 -18

Stats & Metrics: Knicks

Jalen Brunson 34 67 149 32.5% 7.7 336 44.5 18
Immanuel Quickley 33 66 141 26.1% 4.7 201 26.2 11
Josh Hart 32 62 128 10.9% 1.0 157 19.4 27
Donte DiVincenzo 25 49 153 17.0% 3.2 170 16.4 2
Mitchell Robinson 27 54 163 8.0% 2.1 115 12.2 16
Julius Randle 35 69 98 34.3% -3.7 83 11.4 15
Miles McBride 14 28 183 8.7% 1.7 143 7.9 3
Isaiah Hartenstein 20 39 108 13.6% -0.3 90 6.9 4
Jericho Sims 1 2 0.0% 0.0 124 0.0 1
Daquan Jeffries 2 5 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 1
Ryan Arcidiacono 1 2 0.0% 0.0 0 0.0 1
Evan Fournier 16 31 47 14.9% -3.1 -80 0.0 6